COLOMBO: Over a thousand Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen from the four coastal districts of the Northern Province demonstrated in front of the Northern Provincial Council at Kaithady in Jaffna on Tuesday protesting against a reported proposal to allow 250 Tamil Nadu trawlers to fish in North Lankan waters on specified days.
K.Rajachandran, President of the Ambal Fishermen’s Cooperative of Karainagar in Jaffna, told Express that the fishermen presented a memorandum to the Northern Provincial Minister of Education T.Kurukularajah, delineating the immense harm that would be done to the north Lankan Tamil fishermen’s livelihood if TN fishermen were given this facility.
Rajachandran said that crossing the international maritime boundary line is illegal and that on no account, the Lankan government should allow TN fishermen to cross and poach in Lankan waters.
More specifically, the measure would jeopardize the livelihood of Lankan Tamil fishermen as they had started fishing only recently after a 30 year disruption imposed by the war and naval restrictions, he said.
South Lankans Not In Bottom Trawling
Both Rajachandran and Gehan Gunatilleke of the think tank, Verite Research, denied a report that South Lankan fishermen use bottom trawlers near the North Lankan sea coast.
“It is fishermen from Tamil Nadu and some north Lankan Tamil fishermen with political backing who indulge in bottom trawling off Mullaitivu,” Rajachandran clarified.
Gunatilleke said that as per available evidence, the bottom trawlers are not from south Lanka but from the Northern Province.
According to Rajachandran, South Lankan fishermen could be bottom trawling far away from the coast, but near the coast, they use only traditional boats.
However, they use lights and the Koottu Valai (a kind of net) which are banned,” he said.